I am not particularly savvy when it comes to technology. I groaned when I had to give up my Motorola Razr (may she rest in peace) for a smartphone. I’m more of an analog gamer, preferring Scrabble to Words With Friends, and I only have four apps on my phone: MapMyRun (a glaring and constant reminder of my laziness), Facebook and Instagram (which I’m beholden to), and one that turns friends into unicorns (used more frequently than I care to admit).
But even I, with my remedial tech skills, know I’m a slave to the digital world. And because it’s a staple in everyday life, it’s not surprising that technology has taken over the hospitality industry, as well. In an article on Millennial-designed hotels for our May issue, I spoke with brand managers, designers, and hotel owners who all said the same thing: The most important design elements aren’t opulent installations but outlets, USB ports, and broadband internet.
Millennials, they agreed, who barely remember the days of dial-up internet, when the screeching sound of a sign-on was a welcome relief, won’t tolerate having to pay for wifi. So some hoteliers are now opting for a tiered approach “that features free, property-wide basic service while charging for premium broadband access,” according to a recent article from Hotel News Now.
Travelers may appreciate the luxe lines, minimalist design, or hints of color displayed throughout high-end properties, but what they remember (and what keeps them coming back) is the technology available at the hotel. People want to binge watch Orphan Black on their iPad while they send emails from their laptop and upload selfies to Instagram from their phone—all at the same time.
Nowadays, lauded design is in the technology details. At a recent showroom opening for Bang & Olufsen, I was talking to a brand representative about the most popular item for hotels. He pointed to a sleek, white TV, and we chatted about how digital devices are now driving hospitality design. Not only does it have to be a TV with all the bells and whistles, but it has to look good too.
That philosophy is only evolving. Gene Kornota, owner of the independent property ACME hotel in Chicago, has two full-time Millennials “just doing social media,” and ACME is the first hotel to promote Google Glass, a free amenity that gives guests a chance to create their own high-tech Chicago adventure. “You have to have really great connectivity,” he says.
Most of us have a fear of missing out (FOMO) and want to be connected—whether it’s to the people around us, our local surroundings, or to the world. Maybe soon enough, we’ll all be “glassholes.”